Unitek EMT Looks at Emergency Medical Services in Japan

A Look at Emergency Medical Services in Japan

Recently, we started a blog post series to explore emergency medical services (EMS) in other countries. Last week we looked at EMS in the United Kingdom, and today we’re going to shift our focus toward Japan. Whether you’re naturally curious or you’d like to know for future travel plans, we hope you’ll find this list to be helpful and informative!

Join us for a trip to the island country of Japan…

Unitek EMT Looks at Emergency Medical Services in Japan

A Quick Overview of EMS in Japan

As with the first segment in this series, we’ve taken our information from a source called Trek Medics International. According to their website, Trek Medics is a 501c3-registered nongovernmental organization (NGO) “dedicated to improving emergency medical systems in communities across the globe without reliable access to emergency care through innovative mobile phone technologies.”

Trek Medics states that, in Japan, first response care is provided by a government-sponsored service through the Fire and Disaster Management Agency. On the Trek Medics website, they also relay that the Japanese system is thought to be “well organized and very effective in rapidly deploying emergency response vehicles…despite heavy automobile traffic and pedestrian congestion.”

How to Call for Emergency Medical Services

To call an ambulance in Japan, you’ll need to dial 119. This number will connect you to a fire department call center that can dispatch an ambulance and other necessary responders. You can call this number anywhere in Japan, as it is available nationwide.

If you’d like to know about other emergency numbers, dialing 7119 in Tokyo will allow you to “speak with the Emergency Telephone Consultation Centre if your medical concern is borderline — i.e., not serious enough to call an ambulance, but concerning enough to require consultation without going to the hospital.”

Additionally, you can call the below numbers if necessary…

+ Dial 03-5285-8185 for emergency interpretation in English.

+ Dial +81-(0)3-3811-8121 for private emergency assistance providers/insurers (this applies to international travelers and corporate customers).

+ Dial 171 for disasters or other complex emergencies. As stated by Trek Medics, this call line is “operated by the national government to provide/exchange info about impact/damage of the disaster and available hospital resources.”

EMS Transportation in Japan

You might be wondering how you would be transported in an emergency situation. The answer is actually quite simple: conventional ambulances provide emergency transport in Japan. However, Trek Medics has added that the fire brigade may assist other first responders. In addition, “doctors may also be dispatched in regular vehicles to arrive more quickly and begin providing care.”

Trek Medics also includes information about typical destinations for ambulances. In Japan, hospitals are categorized so that EMS personnel can quickly transport patients to the correct facility. They are sorted into three categories that are based on resources, administration, staff, and education (please see below).

+ Primary Emergency Facilities: They see walk-in patients.

+ Secondary Emergency Facilities: They treat acute illnesses and trauma.

+ Tertiary Emergency Facilities: They provide care for those that are critically and severely ill/traumatized. They are also responsible for educating medical personnel, including ambulance personnel.

Payment for Emergency Services

You’re probably also wondering how people pay for emergency transport. Like in the United Kingdom, emergency medical response is entirely funded by the public. In other words, “patients do not pay out of pocket for transportation.” In 2015, though, the Japanese government began to reevaluate this policy.

For more information, such as common emergencies, recommended vaccinations, and government oversight, be sure to visit the Trek Medics website before you take your trip. There you’ll also find a picture that you can show to a Japanese person and they will call an ambulance for you (the picture depicts a request for an ambulance in Japanese).

Travel safely, everyone!

About Unitek EMT and EMT Training

If you’re not familiar with us, Unitek EMT strives to prepare aspiring Emergency Medical Technicians by providing them with an accelerated EMT program. Seasoned professionals educate our students through a combination of traditional learning, simulation training, and workshop-style classes.

Additionally, we offer a program with several variations to better accommodate our students. These include a 14-Day Boot Camp1 at our Fremont Campus in Northern California, and a modified version of the Boot Camp at our facility in Chandler, Arizona.

If you’d like more information, please contact us toll free at 888-790-1458!




1 Our 14-Day EMT Program in AZ and the 14-Day on-ground portion of the EMT Program in CA are taught in an intensive “boot camp” style, to simulate the fast pace of work expected on the job as an EMT. The California EMT Program also includes online instructional hours.